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Published: Sunday July 28, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Sunday July 28, 2013 MYT 2:16:26 PM

FINA give nod to mixed gender relays at future worlds

BARCELONA: Missy Franklin and Ryan Lochte might end up swimming in the same event.

Swimming’s governing body FINA voted on Friday to include two different mixed-gender relays – the 4x100m freestyle and the 4x100m medley – at future World Championships.

Teams will be made up of two men and two women, and it is up to them to decide the order – so, for instance, a woman could race against a man on the anchor leg.

Having already been tested at a World Cup meet in Dubai last year, the mixed relays will get their official debut at the 2014 short-course worlds in Doha, Qatar, in the 4x50m format. Then they will make their long-course worlds debut in Kazan, Russia, in 2015.

The event got rave reviews when it was tried at the 2007 Duel in the Pool in Australia, when Libby Lenton (now named Trickett) swam what would have been a world record when racing against Michael Phelps.

“It’s really exciting to have another event,” said American veteran Natalie Coughlin, the winner of 12 Olympic medals.

“The first time I saw it on a programme was Duel in the Pool. I was begging to be on that relay. I’m still upset I wasn’t on that relay. It’s fun from team dynamic to combine our teams. When you’re someone like me who’s been here a long time, it’s fun to change things up.”

The addition of two more races means that five relays will be on the programme at the worlds, joining the traditional 4x100m free, 4x200m free and 4x100m medley.

At the World Cup meet in Dubai, Britta Steffen – who holds the world records in the 50m and 100m free – led Germany to victory by holding off two fast-charging male swimmers in the anchor leg.

“It makes things really interesting for the spectators,” US women’s head coach Dave Salo said.

“The athletes enjoy it on the short-course circuit. It’s a good chance to entertain the spectators. That’s what we’re here for.”

The mixed relays have not yet been approved for the Olympics. But that could happen, eventually. — AP

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